The Notification System is a framework for the delivery of notifications to Blackboard Learn users. When an event occurs in the system—such as an assignment is created, a survey is submitted, or a test is overdue—the Notification System informs all the users by using one or more of available notification methods. For a complete list of the available notifications, see Notification Types.

The first and most important thing to understand about this system is that all enabled notifications are generated automatically whenever their associated event occurs. For example, when an instructor creates an assignment and makes it available to his students, the system automatically creates the appropriate notifications. This requires no action by the instructor.

Once generated, notifications are immediately visible to users within Learn in these locations:

  • On My Blackboard's Updates and Posts pages
  • In Notification Dashboard modules

The system can also distribute notifications by email and other distribution mechanisms. Distribution is disabled by default. When enabled, it sends out notifications periodically according to a configurable schedule. To learn more, see DistributionSendNotificationTask.

Within the parameters set by the administrators, individual users can configure which notifications they receive and choose how they want to receive their notifications.

When notifications are created

Broadly speaking, notifications are created under these circumstances:

  1. Immediately in response to a real-time event. When an assignment is created, a test is graded, or a survey is submitted, a single notification is created.
  2. When a user is added to a course. This doesn't create new events but instead appends new recipients to existing events.
  3. In response to some kind of content exchange event. When a course is imported, copied, or users are added to an existing course using Snapshot, a notification is created. These events generally lead to the creation of a multiple events, which are referred to generally as mass notifications.

Of these, the mass notification mechanism is by far the most complex.

More on mass notifications

How notifications are made available

Notifications can be made available to recipients in two ways:

  1. Online: Notifications can appear in course home pages and, if your institution has access to community engagement features, in the Notifications Dashboard, which is a system-level page that displays a user's notifications across all courses.
  2. Distributions: Notifications can be sent through one or more distribution mechanisms, such as email. Other mechanisms include SMS, Text-to-Voice, and Blackboard app push notifications, if enabled on the system.

Notifications appear online in the notification modules as soon as they're available. The timeline is subject to the cache settings. Distributions occur on a periodic basis according to several configurable variables. For information about cache and the configurable variables, see Notifications Performance.

Again, all of these notifications will be created by default and automatically. For example, when an instructor creates an assignment with a due date, the Assignment Available and Assignment Due notifications will be sent automatically to all students in the course.

How notifications are prioritized

Notifications are distributed based on three levels of prioritization:

  1. Notifications for new course enrollments. Students will receive a notification telling them which course they are enrolled in.
  2. Notifications containing a due date, such as for an assignment.
  3. Notifications not containing a due date, such as for a discussion board post.

Notifications are processed in the above order, and then by due date closest to the current day.

When notifications are made available

Notifications are displayed in a user's notification modules and scheduled for distribution as soon as their associated items are available. This means that:

  • If the item has a start date, the notification is held until that start date arrives. If the item has an end date, the notification disappears after that date.
  • If the item (or the folder that contains it) has adaptive release rules associated with it, the notification is not made available until those rules are met.
  • If the item has no start date (or a start date in the past) and no adaptive release rules associated with it (or the adaptive release rules have already been satisfied), the notification is immediately made available.

Who notifications are sent to

Notification Types lists all of the parties who receive these notifications, but keep a couple of things in mind:

  • Some notifications are group-aware. When they are issued in a group context, they are sent only to the members of that group. These include:
    • Assignment Available
    • Assignment Submitted
    • Assignment Submitted Late
  • All Due notifications change into Overdue notifications after their due date passes. For information about how this occurs, see the Notifications Remove Stale Data Task in Notifications Performance.
  • All of these notifications can be turned off individually at two levels:
    • At the course/org administrative level, that is, for the system as a whole.
    • At the individual user level.

The Course/Organization Available notification can't be turned off at any level.